You are a traveling across what used to be Colorado and Utah: it may be cold, it may be hot.

This is okay, you have caches of clothing and weather gear you can easily pick up. Electricity is sporadic outside of wealthy areas of cities, and water more so due to the scarcity of correct piping. Most people over the age of 30 are dead, less so in the cities. You are not terribly wealthy, and cannot afford many specialised or high tech tools. Manufactured goods are vastly more expensive, so most of your stuff is natural based and durable.

What would you carry with you on a daily basis?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What's the threat environment? Wolves? Bands of cannibals? Fast-zombies? None? $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Oct 30, 2018 at 1:08
  • $\begingroup$ In order to answer this, I guess the bigger question is what threatens your survival. Are there marauding bands? Cannibals? Mutant creatures? Radiation? Zombies? Is the land more arable or is it a wasteland where nothing grows? All these questions greatly impact what choices you are going to make; if food is plentiful but safety isn't, then you're going to make different choices than you would if there's nothing at all, dangerous or nourishing alike. My next question is how are your cities being fed? $\endgroup$
    – Tim B II
    Oct 30, 2018 at 1:09
  • $\begingroup$ Are we traveling from one place to another within Colorado and/or Utah? Or do we have a base of operations we are based out of? How do we make a living? There are a lot of factors at play here, and some further detail will help narrow down possible answers. $\endgroup$
    – Crouse
    Oct 30, 2018 at 1:12
  • $\begingroup$ Also how long ago did this over 30 death wave happen, if fairly recently then there's a lot of supplies that no longer have any owners that can be looted. so low wealth stops being a factor $\endgroup$ Oct 30, 2018 at 10:42
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ A towel . They may forego anything else but they will need a towel. $\endgroup$ Oct 30, 2018 at 14:48

8 Answers 8


The standard Post Pockyclypse Traveller's Kit. Kindly note that this is a list of essentials. There are hundreds and thousands of items a traveler could carry and would undoubtedly find useful. Most of those things can easily be stowed away in a cache or supply dump. This kit is simply stuff a traveler should carry at all times.

  • Knife #1. Not a dainty little folding pocket knife. A proper knife. Gets the job done proper like. Saves on ammo; can save our traveler's life in a sticky situation. Even though this will scare the bejeezus out of anyone facing the wrong end of the thing, it is not for show. It's for doing a dirty job. Yes, those are 4mm thick steel serrations along the back. No, these were not made for sawing wood! Ouch.

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  • Knife #2. Workhorse, full tang, with sharping stone.

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  • Shotgun. Pistols are for pretenders. You need something that can do real damage almost without aiming. Good for hunting & defense. Plentiful ammo to boot.

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  • Water bottles or canteens. Very handy, especially where you can find good, clean water.

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  • Water filter. This is the post Pockyclypse: our traveller won't know what kinds of yuck have been spilled into the waters where she's travelling. Industrial waste, chemical waste, animal waste, corpses & carrion abound. Don't want to drink that!

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  • Some rope. Useful for so many things!

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  • A good book. Unless you're special forces or a prepper, you probably don't know a whole lot of specifics about post pockyclyptic survival. Read deep. Learn fast.

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Other than the above, your standard Boy Scout (back when the Boy Scouts were actually about Scouting and not social engineering) kit will suffice, including things such as: maps, compass, water bottle, poncho, toothbrush, emergency surgical kit / first aid kit, couple interesting trade items, carving or pocket knife, fire kit, survival blanket, pencils, moleskine journals, small camp hatchet.

Note: the "Boy Scout Kit" is not intended to be an exhaustive list. That's what the BSA Handbook and Field Guide are for!

With "most people over the age of 30" being dead, I don't think you can count on any electricity, water, gas or goods of any kind getting anywhere. It's the people who are over 30 (and under 70) who actually know how all that stuff works, know how to fix it and do the actual work. Most of those who are still alive will be the ones who've picked the military surplus shops, gun stores, pharmacies, hospitals and so forth clean while all the 20-somethings are wondering when their e-connections are going to become less sporadic.

Your traveller is going to want to move from place to place with some stealth. Away from people who are sick, starving, desperate a/o suffering from Netflix withdrawal. Hitting a supermarket or mom-n-pop shop for some canned goods may be a necessity from time to time. But for the most part, she's going to want to live as much off the land as possible. Hunting & trapping; raiding the houses of the dead; looting the occasional shop. Unless she's got a troop of like-minded individuals with her, she's going to live a very dangerous life and she'll want to stay away from people as much as possible. Find a few good folks in the area she can trust, keep the rest at bay!

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ +1 for the fact that I'll never take an American show with some 'hero' holding a pistol seriously again. In point of fact, I never did but at least now I've realised why. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B II
    Oct 30, 2018 at 1:55
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I think replacing Knife #1 with an Axe might be better. It would work better than a knife at deterring people and would let you work with wood a lot better than a knife. That or a machete... $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Oct 30, 2018 at 3:08
  • $\begingroup$ If they are getting close enough to you while you have a rifle, then they won't care about your axe/knife/machete. You should have taken the shot when you could. Anyhow, as for my thoughts: a pistol or two in case of emergency might not be a bad idea. A rifle is better, but if you lose it, being able to pull out a pistol as a backup wouldn't hurt. $\endgroup$ Oct 30, 2018 at 3:37
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @SoraTamashii I only wanted to change Knife #1... not replace the shotgun as well. An axe lets you cut wood, for fire and to quickly prop up a canvas/tent, an advantage since you have a secondary knife. $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Oct 30, 2018 at 4:24
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas I think a camp hatchet (not just for fighting) would be more useful than carrying a bayonet apparently just to frighten people (i.e. Gun #1), so I can't believe you're that serious! As for the other items, agree to disagree, and it obviously depends on what kind of apocalypse. Water filter is great, until it breaks, whereas tools to boil water could last you for decades "after the fall" $\endgroup$
    – workerjoe
    Oct 31, 2018 at 1:31

Alas... i would love to give you a list of every item, but doing so would be about a mile long make me sound like a prepper which i'm not. However, if you fill in the various important sections of preparedness then you should be ok... ish

Food, Water, Medical, Clothing, Navigation, Fire, Defense, Communication, Trade, lets go through these BRIEFLY!!! many of the things on the list are as much about Moral as they are practical, but moral is very very important in a survival situation

Also worth noting that while Shelter is an improtant section, i've not included it as your question stats low funding. most of the below is fairly cheap in the grand scheme of things. but decent shelter is usally expensive unless you amke it yourself, so while its not emtioned below. Rope or and type of Cordage is always worth carrying a decent amount of.

Food and Water

These go almost without saying, you're not going to set out on a long journey without them, but its difficult to carry 1 months worth, on your back, so you'd likely want to bring the long living staples like, Rice, Pasta, then if you find something on route you can add it for flavouring, but these foods offer densely packed calories but need water... Water you would need various forms of purification.

Its all fine having a Water Purifying Straw, but if it gets lost, stolen or breaks, you're stuffed, so a couple of these along with some purification tablets and maybe knowing a thing or two about purifying water with VERY small amounts of bleach and then filtering would do you fine. a good line of reasoning is 2 is 1 and 1 is none, if you don't have a backup then you don't have any bascially.


Now, its unreasonable to carry an ambulance worth of medical supplies, oxygen tanks and a defibrillator with you, but some bandages, gauze, anti septic and some antibiotics are a good start. the important thing to consider is stopping a small injury becoming a big one. research Immediate First Aid Kit or IFAK, for better details.


Socks glourious socks! you want to change these every day at least if your hiking a lot. but also some spare dry clothes, nothing will sap your energy and moral then finishing a long hike in the rain and then having to sit and sleep in wet clothes and are unable to get dry. things like Trench Foot can quickly become an issue as well.

And of course some waterproof cloths and probably a waterproof poncho for reasons i'll go into later.


Maps and compasses, GPS will eventually stop working unless someone is controlling it, o if its 10+ years into the Apocalypses, and yet GPS still works (if you can charge a unit up at least) then someone somewhere is maintaing the orbits of those sateiltes!!!

So learn to read a map, and use a compass!!!


Yay! Fire! the fun stuff! carry a at least small amount of tinder (not to be used for dating or hookups!) with you, and several ways to light it, and at the very very least a fire steel! lighters run out or stop working when wet, Fire steels don't.

Then all you need to do is practice and learn how to build a decent fire. and these slides nicely into the next section...


Drawing attention to yourself isn't that much of an issue today, but in the apocalypse someone might want your stuff, so a big smoke trail leading up from your bonfire is probably going to draw attention. whether is good or bad... that's unknown.

So to be safe you'll be wanting Knives and Guns and Rocket Launchers and... oh... what do you mean you've been crushed under the weight of it all...

There are a million different websites and blogs out there as to the best knife or gun for this situation, i'm not going into it here, all i will say is that being able to reuse ammo is a big benefit, so Bow and Arrow, or Slingshots are genuinely good options if not for a primary defense then as a backup. i don't want the comments section exploding with "why didn't you recommend X, Y or Z gun instead of A, B or C

But... This is not just about people, or even animals, this is also about the environment, remember that waterproof poncho I mentioned earlier, open it up and use it as a temp shelter is a very good defense against the wind and rain. a good sleeping bag is good defense against the cold. think along these lines.


Carrying a radio without anyone to talk to seems pointless doesn't it? well maybe not. think about it, you've come across a small town... can't tell if anyone lives there so you stroll in and get shot... or maybe just robbed and run out of town.

OR, you get close, stay hidden, and turn on your PMR radio, the type that uses the same channels that all shop bought PMR radios use, then you just scan through a few times, you might pick up some people talking to each other. its not a given, you could miss it or they don't have radios, but why not take a few minutes to check first. you'd still approach the town with caution but you might get a hint before exposing yourself


This is an odd one, but cigarettes and small bottles of alcohol are worth their weight, people will trade useful items or food for a pack of smokes if they haven't had any in a while. decent strength alcohol can be used to sterilize wounds but also for trade if needs be.

Ok... so this is an INCREDIBLY brief list, and yet its massive hope it helps


I recommend people check out the great answer by elemtilas, but there is a point in the question that was overlooked there...

You are not terribly wealthy, and cannot afford many specialised or high tech tools. Manufactured goods are vastly more expensive, so most of your stuff is natural based and durable.

(emphasis mine)

I would like to challenge this somewhat, but then to adhere to it after.

"Too long, didn't read" version

The essentials, and how to source them naturally, include...

  • cutting tools, probably made of stone. Break stones apart and use the sharp edges. Look for flint; it can help with fire starting and also can have a very sharp edge.

  • containers. You should try to stay near water as much as possible, but have containers to hold water for when you must leave the river. Make by burning out a hole in wood if you have nothing else.

  • There are no good natural items I know of that make good shelters which are light and small enough to easily bring with travelers. Trading for a tent or tarp will be high priority if possible.

  • Rope, make from plants or plant fibers.

  • Either flint & steel or friction fire tools (base board and either wood drill or wood plough) for starting fires.


If this is the same generation of people that lived through the apocalypse and are now facing the post-apocalypse, then there are likely to still be a lot of manufactured goods available. Not everything, but enough to get you some items.

In my country there are many times more knives than there are humans. There are lots of knives in stores. There are even more knives in the kitchens of almost every house in my culture; many of them wouldn't be the best survival knives, but they are better than nothing. Heck, my father used a knife sharpener on a butter knife and made a razor sharp camping knife out of it.

There might not be enough axes to go around, ditto for some other tools, but there will be enough that they are not super rare.

And everyone who has these things will find them so valuable fast that they would not sell them to the wealthy people unless they were starving and the wealthy provided the food they need.

And back to your restrictions...

The other answers provide reasonable lists, so I'll try to concentrate on their natural counterparts as per your restriction. I try not to go into too much detail or link to tutorials because this question is about a list of essential tools. If you want to go beyond that, Google the terms I use below.

Most post-apocalyptic stories I've heard of assume all the tools are scavenged from the remains of society. I like that you've suggested that is possible but not practical and are going for a more primitive, naturalistic feel. It is like jamming the stone age and the space age together and reconciling the two existing in tandem.

Almost everyone who gets into outdoor survival and gets even reasonably good at it says this same thing: if you learn some skills, your brain becomes more valuable than any physical tool. Using your knowledge, you can make tools or even get by without needing them.

Cutting tools

  1. A knife

  2. A secondary cutting tool (ax, saw, hatchet, etc.) if you can manage it. Also these can substitute for many knife functions if you cannot get a knife.

  3. If you manage to have iron/steel tools, a sharpener will keep them working better for a long time.

A good steel knife would be so useful to survivors in your scenario, especially to the traveling ones, that many people would literally kill for one.

You can get by with wood and stone cutting tools. They can get a job done, and you would do well to learn how to make and use them. But they wear out fast. This is not Minecraft - an iron axe doesn't just have three times the durability and work a little bit faster than a stone axe.

In reality, iron tools are vastly superior to their stone and wood counterparts. An iron tool properly cared for can last a lifetime, or even several lifetimes, and it will need to be sharpened a lot less often and will cut through things way, way faster than most natural alternatives. If you can manage in your scenario to get an iron/steel tool or two, especially a good knife, then you should go way out of your way to do so.

If you cannot get a good metal cutting tool, then you need to resort to sticks and stones to make cutting tools. You better get used to making them, as you'll need to keep making them many times for the rest of your life if you keep needing to cut through things. You can make stone cutting tools by breaking rocks apart to expose sharp edges; that is an overly simplified view of it, but that is the basic idea.

You can cut through wood with sharp rocks, and you can even cut through wood with sticks if you work at it long enough. To cut wood with wood, you literally just keep rubbing them together so that the two pieces of wood slowly wear each other away by friction. It takes a huge effort to do this, so what you need cut better be worth it or you might as well forget about it.

Food and water tools

  1. A container(s) to carry water while away from water source

  2. A way to boil the water if it could be biologically contaminated

There is a reason why many cities are near lakes or rivers. People used to settle near fresh water so they had all there water needs met. Do the same; travel between and along waterways. And use some containers to bring as much water with you as you can whenever you leave water behind.

If you don't have a manufactured container, you can make one.

  • Fold a leave into a cup.

  • Burn out a deep hole in a piece of wood to make it into a cup.

  • Scrape clean an animal hide, clean it, and fold it up into a cup.

  • Use anything you have to hold water even if that is not what it's meant for. Tarp, inside-out rain poncho, plastic bag, anything.

  • Learn to make clay containers.

If you think the water could be biologically contaminated (germs, viruses, or other bio), then boil it if you have something to boil water in. If you have a container that you do not want to put into a fire, then putting a hot rock from the fire into your container can boil the water.

For food, that is such a broad topic that you could ask multiple questions about food-gathering tools.


If you can get a tent or at least a tarp, great. But since we are concentrating on natural items...

If you are going to be traveling, then you really just need to keep setting up tiny shelters out of whatever you find along the way. You really just need to learn the art of making survival shelters. Anything you could make naturally would be either too big and heavy or take a very long time and a lot of skill to make.


Rope is so very useful. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of effort to create natural ropes in this setting. You need to figure out how to pull off the long, thin, flexible strands of fibers from plants and work them together to form rope.

In a pinch, if you just need a short length, lots of plant parts can be used as short ropes: some plant stems, the thin flexible ends of branches, vines, thin roots, and similar long, thin, tough plant parts.


Very, very good, dry fire-starting tinder, and any 1 of the following...

  • If you can manage to get a manufactured old item: a ferrocerium rod or a magnifying glass

  • Flint & steel

  • Friction fire base board and either wood drill or wood plough

  • Fires are not needed often, so maybe you could cook infrequently and borrow some hot coals from someone else's fire to start yours

Learn to find flint in the wild (it does not occur everywhere) and also learn to identify rocks with iron deposits on the surface and try to strike them together to make sparks. However, even if you have a good piece of flint and even if you strike it with an actual steel striker that was designed for striking flint, even then it is still not easy to get a fire started. Your travelers will need to do lots and lots (and lots and lots and...) of practice and have a mountain of patience.

If you have natural flint in your area, this is also great for another reason: flint can be used to make good cutting tools as well.

The other way your travelers might start fires is by a friction fire method. These methods are also hard. There are multiple different friction fire starting techniques, and I encourage you to look them up. The common names for these techniques (and each one of them is different) is: fire drill, bow drill, fire plough, fire saw, fire roll. Again, a lot of practice and patience is necessary.

Whatever method is used, you also need very good tinder. Thoroughly dried out grass, or certain plant seeds, or very thin wood shavings thoroughly dried, etc. - but whatever you use to light up, it needs to be very dry.


That covers most of the essentials, and as you can see you will need to learn how to make these things yourself or have something to trade with others who can make them.

So really, the number 1 thing you need is knowledge about how to make the things you need. Or, if you can get your hands on one in your scenario, a book that tells you what to do.

All of these naturally crafted things will keep wearing out fast. You will need to keep remaking them frequently. If you are in an area of cold, snowy winters, maybe you will spend your winter making tools for the coming year. If not, maybe you stop all other activity every once in a while to spend a week making tools.

  • $\begingroup$ By natural based I meant that things like nylon would be more expensive, as opposed to plain wool which is simpler to produce, the apocalypse struck 18 years ago. $\endgroup$ Oct 30, 2018 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ @TanzaniteDragoness So 1) is my answer closer to what you want than the answers suggesting modern knives, water filters, paracord, etc.? Even if mine is closer, 2) did I go too far in the other direction? 3) Are you getting what you wanted out of the answers for your question? $\endgroup$
    – Loduwijk
    Oct 30, 2018 at 21:31
  • $\begingroup$ Yors is a bit off in the other direction. I was attempting to mean that you cant have fancy pop up air matresses, nano-technology, lycra, 2000 multi tools, etc. $\endgroup$ Nov 1, 2018 at 21:40

Many of the other answers are fine, but I'd add what I consider to be the most important single item: a bicycle.

Yes, it's a "manufactured item" but so is almost every other thing presented here.

It increases your speed and range dramatically, which reduces every other risk.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ While I wouldn't say "most important single item", I do agree that a bicycle would be extremely useful for long distance travel. It beats walking in so many ways. You mention speed and range, but it also reduces tiredness and fatigue, and it can carry some of the weight for you, and it can carry more than you can. A person on a bike quarters their weariness, triples their carried load, and quadruples (or more) their long term distance (or equivalently divides their road time by 4 or more). Imagine carrying 100 pounds of food and water. Suddenly the trip is sunshine and rainbows. $\endgroup$
    – Loduwijk
    Oct 30, 2018 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ My character already has one of these. It is a mountain bike with a small trailer. At some point someone pays her with a solar powered dune buggy $\endgroup$ Oct 30, 2018 at 21:12

sun glasses, knife, rifle/ammo, compass, topographic map, canteens, binoculars, fire-kit, fish-hooks/line, poncho, thin rope, field guide of edible plants etc., toilet kit, spare socks, sewing kit, tarp, blanket, cooking kit, wrapping plastic, notebook/pencils


You say you are traveling. In hostile territory you would do well to limit your movement to nighttime to avoid being seen. That is counter-intuitive but most creatures including people are scared of the night so that works to your advantage. That is added insurance but it introduces other risks and considerations. For example night trekking without light through broken terrain and brush would make you more prone to lacerations and joint injuries so you'd need added protection, gloves, clear eye protection, skin wrappings, and essential first aid stuff. You'd probably need to boil the water you're able to forage but that would be limited to daytime so you'd need suitable containers to carry all the water you might need for an entire night's trek. Your hunting opportunities would be limited so you'd need packable food. Probably your biggest challenge. You'd also need suitable camouflage to hide yourself during the daylight hours should you be caught in open terrain. Last but not least, you'd need to make sure your affairs are in order and a will is left with your next of kin because there's a good chance you won't make it.

  • $\begingroup$ downside, traveling at night makes you more likely to run into a predator. It is also very easy to get lost at night in the given terrain where you cannot see distant landmarks. . $\endgroup$
    – John
    May 16, 2020 at 16:28

There is no one right answer, there are dozens of ways to survive and meet your needs and hundreds of tools to solve them. Different survival doctrines will emphasis different things. But there is a good tool to evaluate your answer. Start with the basics work up from there, lets introduce Maslow's hierarchy of needs, not perfect but a good guideline.

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Start with what you need to fulfill the lowest tier on a regular basis, and work your way up fulfilling needs, keep travel weight in mind as you fill things in. It is ok to have things from higher tiers but make sure their weight is representative of the pyramids distribution.

  1. Most survival doctrines will list 5 things :food, water, source of fire, shelter, and a knife (which is essential for acquiring and maintaining the others) that's the base of your pyramid. People often forget containers make keeping food and water far easier and is essential for someone who want to travel in the region described, water sources can be separated by many days of travel. shelter includes both clothing and the means to make a safe weatherproof place to sleep. So at minimum a knife, ax, water containers, something to boil water in, a source for fire, even an empty lighter is better than making a fire from nothing. If you can get a tent and fur blanket even better. And you will need clothes for cold windy and hot sunny weather, in history people in the region often used bone or steel needles to make clothing from local wildlife. A way to hunt or fish is essential, they will not be getting much food otherwise.

  2. Next comes security and medicine. Security can be from either animals or people, ideally this can help fulfill other needs as well so a weapon that can be used for hunting or wood working is best, a bow or gun for preference, given how open much of the ground is in the area. Medical means the ability to take take care of common injuries, this can take the form of simple disinfectants and banadages to having antibiotics, sutures, and painkillers

  3. Friendship is up to you, but any survival expert will tell you two people have a much better chance of survival than one. Also humans don't do well in prolonged isolation.

  4. this seems pointless but there is no society in human history that did no create decorations. For modern people things like grooming and bathing will fall into this. Again multifunctionality is helpful, a pair of scissors and a mirror serves for grooming but also has many other uses, likewise soap has grooming and medical uses. there is no humans society that does not decorate themselves so you should think of how your character does.

  5. this should make up the smallest portion of your weight but few humans will not have something for this, this can be as simple as a knife for woodcarving, tools to make jewelry, a deck of cards, or a musical instrument. You need something for the person to do during down time, specifically on days they get stuck due to weather, if there is more than one person this also serves as social capital. Survivalist will tell you even a simple musical instrument like a harmonica does wonders for maintaining the psychological needs of those in survival situations.

And remember a tool that can be used for years beats a more effective tool that will only last months.


If it's Zombies, don't assume dead or tap with your foot/arm, shoot again in the head. Also always check all the bathroom stalls, you don't wanna be left with your pants down. Source: Zombieland

My own thought: Some sort of razor trip wire at around knee height might be really nice, sharp enough to cut deep into their rotten flesh, hopefully, stop them from being able to stand up. If you had a roll of the stuff just put around the doorways, rooms, windows, of the area. I think it would provide a lot of peace of mind. Also modern barbed wire like in the picture below has much more frequent barbs. Ouchie.

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Its incredibly funny how accurate Zombielands rules are... $\endgroup$ Oct 30, 2018 at 10:36

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